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Bruce C. Shelley papers

 Collection — Box: 1-3
Identifier: 116.5468

This collection contains materials relating to Bruce C. Shelley’s time in both the board/strategy game and video game industry. These include digital materials, game rules, correspondence, strategy guide notes, conference materials, articles, magazine clippings, design documents, outlines, order forms, prototype specs, inserts, and reviews. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1982 and 2000.

The Bruce Shelley papers have been arranged into three series, each of which has been further divided into subseries. The collection is housed in three archival document boxes.


  • 1975 - 2010
  • Majority of material found within 1982 - 2000


Conditions Governing Access

VHS tapes in this collection will need to be acclimated to the temperature of the room they will be viewed in prior to watching (about two hours). Some documents in the collection contain pages that are printed out of order and/or are missing pages. 3.5” floppy disks and CDs require advance notice to access and are limited to on-site researchers only.

At this time, digital files in this collection are limited to on-site researchers only. It is possible that certain formats may be inaccessible or restricted.

Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy here .

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


0.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)


The Bruce C. Shelley papers are a compilation of game rules, correspondence, strategy guide notes, design documents, and more, relating to Shelley’s career in both the board and video games industries. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1982 and 2000.

Biographical Note

Bruce Campbell Shelley began his games career testing war board games by mail for free. In 1980, he was one of the founding members of game company Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) along with several friends from the University of Virginia. Simulations Publications provided him with his first job as a professional game designer in the summer of 1981. Shelley joined Avalon Hill in 1982, where he developed board games such as 1830: The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons and Titan. In 1987, Avalon Hill prompted Shelley to switch his focus from board games to computer games. Shelley worked alongside Sid Meier and Andy Hollis at MicroProse Software Inc., learning the philosophy of game design; there, Shelley co-designed Railroad Tycoon (1990) and Civilization (1991) —the games for which he is best known.

Shelley started at Ensemble Studios in 1995, joining two fellow gamers he knew from college. As Senior Designer at Ensemble, Shelley helped to structure the company and influenced the development methodology. He contributed to Age of Empires (1997) and Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (1999), real-time action games with historical depth. Shelley moved to Zynga in 2009 as a Senior Design Director on CastleVille (2011) alongside Brian Reynolds and Dave Pottinger. As of 2017, Shelley continues to be active in the gaming community.

Shelley’s methodologies in developing games include targeting broad audiences, working with prototypes early in the process, keeping the development process fun and fast-paced, drawing inspiration from existing games, and focusing on creating an enjoyable, quality, and best-selling game. His accomplishments include being inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2008 as well as being elected to its Board of Directors.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Analog game-related, c. 1975-1984

Subseries A: Simulations Publications, Inc.
Subseries B: Avalon Hill Games, Inc.
Subseries C: Miscellaneous wargaming materials

Series II: Digital game-related, 1993-2010

Subseries A: MicroProse Software Inc.
Subseries B: Ensemble Studios
Subseries C: Zynga

Series III: Personal papers, 1978-2009

Subseries A: Personal papers
Subseries B: Conference materials

Custodial History

The Bruce C. Shelley papers were donated to The Strong in September 2016 as a gift of Bruce C. Shelley. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 116.5468. The papers were received from Shelley in one box.

Processed by

Nicole Pease, July 2017
Finding Aid to the Bruce C. Shelley Papers, 1975-2010
Nicole Pease
July 2017
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)